Mike Verrecchio recalls his dad, Ido, giving him some simple advice.
“Go to work, and work hard,” he’d say.
Verrecchio, 63, has been working hard for 50 years, starting when he pumped gas and checked oil as a 13-year-old.
Later, he worked as a printer and as a security guard at Wissinoming Park.
For the last 25 years, Verrecchio has brought his dad’s mantra to his job maintaining the grounds, athletic fields and building at Officer Daniel Boyle Memorial Playground, 13045 Kelvin Ave. in Somerton.
“I like keeping a nice, clean spot,” he said.
People have taken notice of Verrecchio’s hard work and how it has resulted in a pristine playground.
City Councilman Brian O’Neill and state Rep. Martina White last week visited the playground to present citations to Verrecchio.
“This is the best-maintained playground in the city of Philadelphia,” O’Neill said. “What Mike does is just incredible.”
White said Boyle Playground is blessed to have Verrecchio on staff, crediting him for his work ethic and the pride he takes in his work. Citing the broken windows theory, she said Verrecchio’s immediate attention to whatever vandalism happens at Boyle discourages more serious incidents.
“We’re just very, very grateful for you,” she said.
Verrecchio, of Somerton, was joined by his wife Rosemary; daughter Rebecca; son Michael and his fiancee Tricia; and granddaughter Giavonna.
Rec leader Neal Regan and the after-school program staff were there, and the children presented Verrecchio with a gift.
Verrecchio said nearby residents respect the playground, noting the little amount of graffiti and dog dirt.
The playground is named in memory of Police Officer Daniel Boyle, a 21-year-old Somerton resident shot to death in 1991 by Edward Bracey after he made a traffic stop at 8th Street and Germantown Avenue. Bracey was convicted and sentenced to death, but a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge later claimed that the killer suffered an intellectual disability. The judge overturned the death penalty, and Bracey is now serving a life term.
Pat Boyle, the slain officer’s dad, still lives in Somerton and attended the ceremony honoring Verrecchio. A mural memorializing Daniel Boyle is painted on a wall of the playground building. Pat Boyle thanked O’Neill for renaming the former Somerton Playground in memory of his son and thanked playground staff over the years for making the property look nice.
And the good news for playground-goers? Verrecchio has no plans to retire. ••